As our roads and sidewalks are beginning to fill with students walking and biking to school, it’s a good time to review road safety practices. Pedestrians account for 14% of all serious road injuries and 15% of road fatalities;1 it is up to both drivers and pedestrians to help improve the safety of our streets for all road users. Here are a few tips for both drivers and pedestrians to keep in mind as we navigate our shared spaces.
Tips for pedestrians
1. Cross at marked crosswalks
Stay safe by only crossing at marked crosswalks or cross overs. Crossing in the middle of a block or between parked cars increases your risk of being hit by a vehicle.
2. Make eye contact
Before crossing in front of a car, look at the driver and try to make eye contact to ensure they’ve seen you before you start walking. Even if you have the right of way, it’s a good idea to make sure traffic is stopped before crossing.
3. Dress to be seen
If you’re walking at dusk or in the dark, your stylish black coat isn’t going to help you to be seen by drivers. Try adding bright or reflecting gear to your outfit if you’re walking at times of day with low visibility. If you often walk your dog in the evening, consider adding a light to your dog’s collar or getting an LED dog collar to increase visibility.
4. Wait your turn
When the “don’t walk” sign is flashing at an intersection, it means exactly that—don’t walk! By rushing out and trying to beat the countdown, you increase the risk that you’ll be caught in the intersection when the light turns green. Also, never cross if the light is red, even if the way looks clear.
It’s never too early to learn about road safety! If you have a little one coming along with you for walks, help them learn road safety by printing out these educational colouring pages from Elementarysafety.com.
Tips for drivers
1. Put your phone away
Using a cellphone while driving is extremely dangerous and illegal. Each time a driver writes and sends a text, they’re looking away from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds.2 When traveling at high speeds, that’s enough time for someone to drive the length of a soccer field while being unaware of changes to their surroundings, potentially leading to an accident. Store your phone out-of-reach to keep temptation at bay and help to keep yourself and other road users safe.
2. Stick to the speed limit
Speeding not only greatly increases your risk of getting into an accident, it also increases the severity of a collision. Pedestrians are eight times more likely to be killed at 50km/h than if struck at 30km/h.1 Slowing down and sticking to the speed limit is an easy way to keep our streets safe.
3. Always check your blind spot
A common cause of vehicle collisions with cyclists is a driver not checking their blind spot before turning right and colliding with a cyclist who was continuing to ride straight. Always check your blind spot before turning right, especially if you know you’re driving in a high traffic area for cyclists or traveling during the evening rush hour, when most cycling fatalities happen.3
4. Don’t doze and drive
Driving while sleepy can be just as dangerous as driving while drunk. The Canada Safety Council estimates that 21% of major vehicle collisions have fatigue as a contributing factor, and fatigue is the 3rd highest cause of accidents, after alcohol impairment and speeding.4 If you feel sleepy, pull over and take a nap—it could save a life!
As an added bonus, driving safely and not having any traffic violations in the last three years will help reduce your insurance premium. For questions about your auto insurance, contact an OTIP Insurance Broker at 1-888-494-0090. To get a quote, call 1-888-892-4935.
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1. Traffic Injury Research Foundation
2. Budget Direct
3. Statistics Canada
4. Canada Safety Council